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CamelBak Racebak Review

CamelBak Racebak hydration pack
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Price:  $100 List
Pros:  Light, low profile.
Cons:  Expensive, bounces around if running or mountain biking.
Manufacturer:   CamelBak
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Nov 29, 2012
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Our Verdict

The Racebak is No Longer Available as of 2017
The RaceBak is the only hydration pack integrated into clothing that we tested. As you would think, it evenly distributes the weight around your entire upper body. CamelBak mainly markets it to cyclists, but we think that is a tough sell unless you truly find that find reaching down for a water bottle on your bike is that annoying. In general, cyclists will always want as much weight as possible on the bike frame or at least the lower back. That said, we are intrigued to try this for climbing and fast and light hiking in the Sierra. We are impressed with the innovation that CamelBak has brought with this product, but we just are not sure of the ideal application yet. We will report back.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The jersey material is comfortable and fits well. We're not crazy about having the bladder and padding high on the back; it's not super comfortable on warmer days. A standard jersey with a bottle and cage seems more comfortable for road cyclists. Although there is padding between the bladder and your back, we still felt sweaty there on rides. It's not nearly as comfortable as a standard jersey.


We were surprised by how much this pack bounced around. That is likely so because all the weight is so high on your back. It is way too bouncy for running and even a little too jiggly for mountain bike riding.

Ease of Drinking

As with all CB packs, water delivery is very good, with high flow from minimal effort. One downside to this design is if you wear any clothing over it, which you probably will, you always have to keep your jacket or shirt unzipped a little if you want access to the bite valve. The alternative is to have the hose come out from your back and sit over your shoulder. But the result is an annoying bouncing of hose and valve around your face and on your shoulder, especially on uneven terrain.

Ease of Filling

This bladder was the most difficult to fill of those we tested. Pulling the bladder out isn't bad, but replacing it is a chore. Every time you fill it you have to remove the whole shirt and any layers on top of the shirt. You can fill the reservoir without removing it, but you will need to be very careful not to get your shirt wet.


This is by far the lightest "pack" we tested. Considering that the shirt replaces you need for a layer, the rig is essentially weightless except for the bladder. For people who think the CamelBak bladders have been become too heavy over time, this style bladder will be welcome. It is much lighter and more simple; more similar to the CamelBak reservoirs used a decade ago.


This is the only CamelBak pack in our tests that leaked. At first we thought it was defective, but then we realized it just needs careful and strenuous tightening after filling. Not a major issue, but something to keep in mind, and the closure mechanism is not as easy to use as with other CamelBak packs.

Ease of Cleaning

Unlike most CamelBak packs, the opening is narrow, so it is not as easy to get a brush inside for cleaning. Also, it is the only CamelBak bladder we tested without a quick-release for the hose.


There is essentially zero storage. You could shove an energy bar or two inside the shirt but it would then be hard to access them.


If you just wear this, without any layer on top, you definitely are making a statement. It only comes in white and is skin tight. If you wear it under a layer, you look a little like a hunchback.


Sizing is tricky. Our main testers most of the time we wear medium but sometimes wear a small. We got a size large in the RaceBak and it was almost too small! So go up a size when you order.

Chris McNamara